- - Sunday, March 5, 2017


What do you think the scene was like Saturday night at Prime 47 in Indianapolis — the restaurant where reportedly the Washington Redskins decision-makers made the decision to extend head coach Jay Gruden’s contract?

What do you think the conversation was like, perhaps, after, I don’t know, a few rounds of drinks? Maybe something like:

“Everyone is laughing at us,” said one of those decision-makers who were important enough for the organization to invite to the NFL combine to meet with prospective draft picks. “We look like idiots with all the stuff swirling around out there. We look like idiots because our general manager — the guy supposedly the most responsible for selecting players in the draft — isn’t here.”

Another decision-maker chimed in, “Heck, everyone is always laughing at us. We always look like idiots.”

“You’re paying for your own drinks tonight,” the head front office decision-maker responded.

“No, we have to do something, and I’ve got just the thing,” the head decision-maker said.

He pulled out a book titled, “Redskins Manual to Halt Shame and Embarrassment.”

“That book?” another decision-maker said. “I thought we burned all the copies of that book after the winning-off-the-field debacle.”

“No, I kept one,” the head decision-maker said. “I knew it would come in handy one day, because, after all, shame and embarrassment has been standard operating procedure at Redskins Park, and gentlemen, we are in high-level shame and embarrassment mode for all the world to see. So we need a diversion.”

He opens the book and turns to the chapter titled, “McNabb Contract Extension.”

The head decision-maker reminded everyone of the time in 2010, when the franchise was reeling from coach Mike Shanahan’s clumsy benching of quarterback Donovan McNabb in a loss to the Detroit Lions and his comments after the game that suggested McNabb didn’t have a grasp of the two-minute offense and was out of shape.

With a bye week to follow, the shame and embarrassment festered for two weeks and threatened to reach new heights, as the Redskins were about to play in front of the country on Monday Night Football against McNabb’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The story of the game would be Shanahan’s benching of McNabb and his inflammatory comments.

Then the Redskins, on the day of the game, changed the story.

They announced a five-year contract extension for McNabb that was reportedly worth $78 million, with about $40 million supposedly guaranteed.

The entire table at the Prime 47 convulsed in laughter as one decision-maker read the supposed “details” of the contract extension.

“A source told ESPN NFL Insider Michael Smith, who first reported the agreement, that McNabb’s contract could be worth $88 million if incentives in the contract are reached.”

“That was hilarious,” one decision-maker said, nearly spitting out his drink as the 2010 report was read out loud. “Remember we announced that McNabb would be the quarterback in Washington for years?”

It turned out that the only real “guaranteed” money was the $3.75 million Washington was obligated to pay McNabb that year. And he was the Redskins quarterback for months, not years, traded six months later to the Minnesota Vikings for a sixth-round draft pick that turned out to be Alfred Morris.

“So we pull a McNabb,” the head decision-maker said, ordering another round of drinks. “We give Gruden a contract extension.”

“But the bump we got for McNabb only lasted hours,” another decision-maker chimed in. “Remember, we got our heads handed to us in a 59-28 loss in that Monday night game by Michael Vick. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and then ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns. It turned out the quarterback who got the contract extension that day was Vick.

“We were back to a laughing stock within hours,” the decision-maker said.

“But the beauty of doing it this time is that we won’t have to play a real football game for seven months,” the head decision-maker said. “We can ride the Gruden contract extension throughout the whole off season.”

“Are you crazy,” another decision-maker responded. “Did you see the last four games of this past season? Did you see how woefully unprepared his team was for the most important games of the season that would have gotten us into the playoffs? Did you see the Giants game, the team that had nothing to play for? Did you hear him say, week after week, that they were outcoached? He was right.

“This guy has two more years on the five-year, $20 million deal we gave him,” the decision maker said. “What’s the rush? We really don’t know if this guy is an NFL head coach yet.”

“Hey, remember McNabb,” the head decision-maker said. “There are contract extensions and there are contract extensions. And maybe this will convince Kurt to sign a long-term deal with us.”

“Who?,” another decision-maker asked.

“Kurt,” the head decision-maker said again.

“Boss, it’s Kirk,” another decision-maker said. “We keep telling you it’s Kirk. Maybe we should make that trade for Tony Romo. You might have an easier time with his name.”

The decision-makers raised their glasses at the table and declared, “Congratulations Jay Gruden.”

One decision-maker asked, “Should we call the general manager and tell him that we just gave the head coach of the team a contract extension?”

“Naw,” the head decision-maker said. “We’ll tell him later.”

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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